Community economic development

We are championing community economic development in national and local policy. 

What is community economic development?

Community economic development (CED) is a process through which communities become leading partners in local economic strategy and gain greater agency, ownership and control in their economic lives. It involves local businesses, community organisations and active residents in an area working together to effect change in the local economy, so that it better supports their shared aspirations in terms of opportunities, livelihoods, enterprise, resources, markets and wealth flows. It often involves broadening ownership and control of assets and enterprise in a place, which is where co-ops have a particularly practical function.

Shared Prosperity Fund

The UK government has promised to replace EU Structural and Investment Funds with a new Shared Prosperity Fund, which it says will be used to reduce inequalities and deliver sustainable, inclusive growth everywhere in the UK. 

With others we are leading a campaign to allocate 20 percent the Shared Prosperity Fund for community economic development, prioritizing the participation of people in the most deprived parts of the UK.

Read More

Examples of community economic development

Current ongoing examples include:

  • Empowering Places: Managed by Co-operatives UK and funded by Power to Change, this programme provides funding and resources to seven community-based ‘catalysts’ over five years to develop community business with the aim of boosting local economies, working in some of the most deprived neighborhoods in England.
  • Together Enterprise: Managed by the Co-op College and funded by The Co-op Group, this programme aims to empower people to set up their own co-ops in Rochdale.
  • Scotland’s Improvement Districts: Scottish Government is supporting traditional ‘Business Improvement Districts’ to evolve into more innovative, flexible and holistic partnerships of local businesses, community groups and anchor institutions, to deliver the ambitions of local businesses and communities.
  • Big Local: Many Big Locals are working to implement community-led economic plans, such as Ambition Lawrence Weston, that is working to develop a community-based hub for skills and labour market support, while also building links between the community and employers in the travel to work area.

Examples of initiatives to come out of recent community economic development include:

  • hundreds of successful community share offers, in which people have come together to raise millions of pounds in patient mission-aligned equity finance for community businesses
  • Eastbourne Fisherman's CIC is a co-operative venture established by people working in the local fishing industry to develop new infrastructure and put itself on a more sustainable footing
  • Regather Co-operative in Sheffield is formed of many local food businesses and community organisations, as a way to co-develop their nascent local food economy and maximize economic and social value
  • Collyhurst Big Local's participation in community economic development has helped the existing network of residents and voluntary organisations to develop its own regeneration plans for their ward that focuses on local entrepreneurship and enterprise, in response to deep-seated and persistent social deprivation and some unpopular and alienating 'top-down' regeneration initiatives driven by / imposed by the local authority
  • Heart of Hastings Community Land Trust in used to increase community ownership of commercial property in the town centre, so that through a democratic community benefit society local people can influence the evolution of their town centre economy 

Policy support for community economic development

Policies for community economic development

  • The UK Shared Prosperity Fund should provide money and support for community economic development
  • The next tranche of Dormant Assets should also provide money and support for community economic development
  • Scottish Government should provide funding and on the ground support for community economic development as part of its Community Wealth Building agenda 
  • MHCLG should provide local authorities and community organisations with a toolkit to help them support community economic development in their areas
  • Community economic development plans should be given material weighting and legitimacy in local political economies, with economic development resources allocated to help communities implement them
  • Communities could be given a legal Right to Participate in community economic development 

  • Existing new enterprise support needs to be augmented with programmes that help people explore and develop their 'co-op options'

Action research

In 2017 we published the findings of two years action research into the practicalities of community economic development. The report will be of practical interest to communities thinking about their local economies and policymakers tasked with fostering a more inclusive economy, locally and nationally.

Read more